How to Maintain Baby’s Body Temperature
Brrrr it’s cold outside! It feels like we skipped fall (my favorite season) and jumped straight to winter.
The cold weather brings out the paranoid mom in me.
As a mom you want to keep your baby warm but you also need to make sure to do it safely.
The struggle is real!
Don’t fret, I’ve got you covered! Maintaining your baby’s body temperature is important in all seasons. The winter season just makes it a little more complicated.
We are going to discuss how to keep your baby warm and safe in various environments this winter.
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Temperature Regulation in Babies
Babies are unable to maintain their body temperature in the way that adults can. They don’t adapt easily when the temperature around them changes. I
n a colder environment, they can lose heat quickly especially if they were born premature.
It’s important to keep their body temperature as close to normal as possible. According to HealthyChildren.Org, a temperature between 97 degrees and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered normal in a healthy baby.
Anything lower can cause their bodies to become stressed which means they’ll have to use more energy to stay warm. This can be a big deal for a baby that is already sick or one that was born early.
Unlike adults, newborns and younger babies don’t shiver. So, you can’t rely on that as indicator of being cold.
How to Know if Baby is Too Hot
As a mom, one of your biggest fears probably involves SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
In this syndrome a healthy baby less than a year old dies, suddenly, without warning.
One of the thoughts surrounding causes of SIDS is overheating. Surprisingly the risk of a baby overheating is higher in the winter than in the summer. Also, the incidence of SIDS is increased in the winter as well.
It is believed that the risk of SIDS is increased when a baby becomes too warm while sleeping. Of course you don’t want your baby to overheat but you don’t want them to be cold either. How can you tell if your baby’s body temperature is too high?
To assess your baby’s body temperature, feel their tummy. It should feel warm and dry. Their tummy shouldn’t feel hot and the baby should not be sweating.
If you touch your baby’s hands and they feel cool to the touch, they are fine.
That is normal for them but can make us as parents feel that our baby is too cold. Our natural instinct is to add another layer of clothing or a hat. Both of these things could lead to the baby overheating.
Alternatively, if you check your baby’s tummy and feet and they both feel warm, your baby is at risk for being too hot.
Pay attention to your baby’s skin color. If their face looks flushed and their cheeks are red, they are too hot.
Also, take note of their breathing. Babies generally breath faster than adults, but if your baby appears to be breathing extremely fast and is flushed, they are too hot.
Other signs that your baby’s body temperature may be too high include restless sleep, sweating, damp hair, and a heat rash.
If your baby is sick, monitor them extra closely. When your baby has a fever, their body temperature is already elevated.
If you add extra layers of clothing or blankets, you are increasing your baby’s temperature even more. Further increasing their risk of SIDS.
Get this SIDS prevention checklist to help you decrease the risk of SIDS.
Baby Room Temperature
It’s important to have a way to monitor that temperature from another room. I prefer to use this monitoring system.Â It allows me to know the room temperature, alerts me if the temperature is out of range, and detects if the baby stops breathing.
How to Keep Baby Safe While Sleeping
When putting your baby to sleep in their crib or bassinet make sure to place them on their back.
The Mayo Clinic believes that when infants are placed on their tummies to sleep they have more trouble breathing.
The thought is that they are rebreathing the carbon dioxide that they exhale. This results in taking in air that is deprived of oxygen. Of course this increases the risk of SIDS.
Do not use blankets in the crib or bassinet. Infants do not have the neck strength to lift their heads should a blanket block their ability to breath.
This can lead to suffocation. Also, babies have a habit of surprising us with their new found abilities.
Your baby could potentially roll over and tangle themselves in a blanket, once again increasing the risk of suffocation.
Keeping Baby Warm in the Crib
If you need something a little heavier, this is a great option too. It is also sleeveless which helps to keep your baby from getting too warm.
When choosing a wearable blanket or sleep sack, make sure to only use one that is appropriate for your baby’s size.
If the sack is too big for your baby it can pose a suffocation risk.
A general rule of thumb is that an infant should wear one more layer than adults. This goes for indoor dressing and outdoor dressing.
Avoid putting hats on your sleeping baby as it can cause overheating and subsequently, SIDS.
Generally speaking, hats are not necessary indoors even if your baby is awake. Be nice, but firm, when grandma tries to convince you to cover that baby’s head. You just don’t want them to get too hot!
Remember, no blankets, pillows, comforters,Â or stuffed animals in the crib with your baby.
Keeping Baby Warm in the Car Seat
There are various ways to keep a baby warm if you are transporting them in an infant car seat during the winter.
No item should be between the baby and the car seat straps
Avoid using any item that will inhibit the ability of the car seat’s safety strap from resting directly on your baby. This includes a coat and large sweaters.
They are just too bulky and do not allow the safety harness to be truly secured against your child.
Having to put on and take off a coat or sweater can be a hassle, especially if you are no longer using your infant car seat. But, it is the only way to make sure your baby is truly secured in their car seats.
Don’t Use Car Seat Bundling Products
There are car seat covers that have a layer that goes underneath the baby. This means that layer is also between your baby and the car seat harness.
This is a big no-no!
Although these car seat covers look very warm with their plush interiors, please don’t use them in your car seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that any item that did not come with your car seat has not been crash tested and may interfere with the car seats ability to protect your child in a crash.
On cold mornings, pre-heat your vehicle so it will be warm enough for your baby. You can use a thick blanket to take your baby back and forth between your vehicle and your home.
They also make car seat ponchos that can be used both inside and outside of the car seat. This is a great alternative to having to take a coat off and putting it back on.
Now you don’t have to worry about disrupting your baby’s body temperature.
The poncho goes over the car seat harness and is made shorter in the back to prevent extra bulkiness in the seat.
If you live in a colder state, you may require something heavier than the poncho. I recently came across an actual coat that your baby can wear in the car seat without disrupting the safety straps.
It is called Buckle Me Coats. I have placed my order and will let you know how it works.
Being Outdoors with Baby in the Winter
Make sure to layer your baby’s clothing when going outside. If using a stroller, a bundling product can be appropriate and very useful in maintaining baby’s temperature.
If you’ll be walking around with your baby, you may find that a baby carrier is more convenient. The good thing about this carrier is that it can be used in all seasons and can also be used for a toddler.
There are a couple of options that can help ensure that you and your baby stay warm while using a carrier.
You can use a coat that’s large enough to cover both you and the carrier or purchase a weather cover. Most weather covers will protect baby from precipitation while also keeping them warm.
To make transport easier, put your baby in the carrier while you are still inside the vehicle. This will limit both of your exposures to the direct cold.
Limit your time outdoors in the winter to avoid making your baby too cold. If you have to be outside for longer periods of time, keep monitoring your baby’s body temperature.
How to Know if Baby is Too Cold
It’s also important to know if your baby is too cold. If you touch your baby and find that their tummy and their feet or toes both feel cool, your baby is cold.
Consequences of not Keeping Baby Warm
As mentioned earlier, babies, especially newborn babies, are at an increased risk of losing heat quickly.
They have a larger surface area compared to body weight so they lose body heat faster than adults.
They also lose heat when their body comes in contact with a cooler surface or when cooler air carries heat away from them.
Hypothermia is a consequence of not keeping your baby warm in a cold environment.Â Healthline states that a baby is considered to be hypothermic if their body temperature drops below 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once this happens a baby is at risk for respiratory problems, infections, blood clotting disorders, and even death.
You can reduce the risk of hypothermia by bundling your baby and covering their heads with a hat when in cold environments.
Make sure the baby’s nursery is not cold. Just like overheating can cause SIDS, hypothermia can as well.
Don’t keep babies outdoors in the cold for long periods of time. Even if the temperature seems fine for you, it may not be safe for your baby.
Make sure bath water is warm enough for the baby. Cold water is more dangerous than cold air as it causes the body to lose more heat.
Don’t allow baby to fall asleep on cold surfaces like ceramic tile or hardwood flooring. This may seem like common sense but sleep deprived parents may be afraid of waking a sleeping baby.
Change wet clothes and wet sheets right away. Also, remove wet bath towelsÂ as soon as possible.
Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangoroo care, is another way to prevent hypothermia. Not only will mom be able to feel temperature changes in the baby, but the baby will be better able to regulate their own temperature.
Keep a kit in the car with items that can be used to keep your baby warm if necessary. Have an extra coat, blanket, and change of clothes.
Also keep emergency items like a sleeping bag, water, and food. You never know when these may come in handy.
Signs of Hypothermia in Babies
- Bright red skin
- Cold skin
- Pale skin
- Weak Cry
- Poor feeding
If you feel that your baby may be showing signs of hypothermia, take their temperature.
If their temperature is below the recommended 97.7 degrees, try warming them by using your body heat, adding extra clothes, warming the room, and swaddling.
In the meantime also contact your baby’s pediatrician. If you can’t get baby warm, call 911.
Being a mom should come with a manual!
We created the Infant Over The Counter Dosage Guide to help you know EXACTLY what dose to give baby or toddler in the event of teething pain or fever. This guide will help you navigate the winter season to feel comfortable and safe!
Get your over the counter dosage guide now!Â [convertkit form=790856]
You can be a mom and still enjoy the winter activities you used to with your baby in tow. Who says you can’t have it all?
Discuss With Us!
What did you learn about keeping your baby warm this winter? Have you faced any of the challenges we have described? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!
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